Torture Garden returned to The Caves in Edinburgh towards the end of June with an even bigger bang than previously. This was my fourth visit to The Caves and it seems that Scotland is finally getting to grips with the TG concept.
Sound strange? Let me explain.
Torture Garden, wherever it’s staged, is and always will be made or broken by the clubbers who attend it. It can be a feast for the senses and is still one of the best nights on the block, but it all depends on who rocks up on the night and the effort made by the clubbers who attend.
In its 21-year life, it has broken many taboos and still has the power to shock the most hardened fetishista. But the mood of those attending is important, and happily, on its latest outing to Edinburgh, the city’s clubbers were well and truly up for a party.
It was as if the light bulb had switched on and everyone was gagging for a great night.
Compared with previous Edinburgh TGs, there was a huge improvement in adherence to the dresscode. People were starting to understand that you get what you give with TG.
If you don’t dress to impress, you either won’t get in at all, or at best you’ll feel a bit of an underdressed tit if you only just scrape by the door bitch — who this time happened to be Allen TG himself.
The Caves provide a dank venue for a club, which for a vanilla night might be disastrous but is utterly perfect for the world’s leading fetish club. The stalactites hanging from the ceiling and the occasional drip on the head only improve the atmosphere.
My only grumble is that the cobbled floor in some areas of the club can prove tricky for those in heels, and I saw at least three people hit the floor in one of the bar areas because of this.
I was lucky enough to grab Allen TG halfway through the night and he took some time to have a chat with me. He told me: “I wish we had a venue like this in London.
“It’s brilliant and we love coming to Edinburgh. The dancefloor gets really crazy by the end of the night and the crowd are up for it. We are planning three Scottish events next year and tonight we’ve reached maximum capacity of 600.”
It also turns out that we Scots were really lucky TG actually happened at all. Serious delays and breakdowns that day had meant the TG gang were stuck somewhere near Berwick for three hours on a train with no air conditioning and windows that wouldn’t open. Sounded heavenly.
So it looks like TG in Edinburgh is going to be a regular sell-out event soon. Which isn’t really that surprising as the Scottish scene isn’t as developed and diverse as London clubbing and TG is the biggest thing to happen to Scotland in years.
With this comes a few problems. Some of the clubbers up here aren’t yet familiar with what happens at the big clubs and what is and isn’t acceptable in clubbing etiquette.
Some fetishistas weren’t recognised, and much hilarity ensued when a well-known photographer was referred to as ‘the big dude in the hood’
Camera phones, overflowing cloakrooms and non-consensual groping were some of the grumbles I heard, but I am reliably informed that the TG staff are now on the case with these issues so there should be improvements next time.
What really put Edinburgh TG on the map on this occasion was that some international fetishistas made appearances.
The interesting thing is that a lot of these people weren’t recognised by the Scottish crowd and much hilarity ensued when a well-known fetish photographer was referred to as “the big dude in the hood”.
I suspect the Scottish crowd are going to get a bit more switched on soon — so the well-known faces (and hood-wearers) should enjoy their anonymity while it lasts.
One of the huge benefits to the less developed Scottish scene is the lack of wanky men. I didn’t see one all night! That’s not something you can say in a London club, and makes for a much more relaxed atmosphere.
I’m not one for burlesque acts and it was with some trepidation that I steeled myself to watch some of the acts in the Kabaret stage area. I really did think that I had seen every possible way for someone to take their kit off and shake a nipple tassel, but I was wrong.
The beauty of Cat Aclysmic as she did a bad bad thing with a glitter gun was hypnotic. She brought a smile to lots of faces and I would definitely recommend going out of your way to see her.
The compère for the night was Ophelia Bitz, who did a sterling job keeping the crowd entertained throughout the night, especially when there was a slight “technical hitch”, ie cock-up.
Not only was she funny, sexy and downright filthy, but it turns out she can sing as well. Some girls get all the luck!
Everyone will have their favourite acts of the night; my own favourite performances, by a long chalk, came from Vivid Angel. Hers felt like the most TG-appropriate of all the acts.
Both her shows were dark, tortured, bloody, bible-burning affairs and left you wondering “what the hell was that about?”. Which sums up a lot of TG really…
Unfortunately owing to pressure from quite a mob of people to do photos of them in the smoking area outside the club, we managed to miss the Jane Doe fashion show. But I’m sure it was great, because Jane Doe fashion shows at TG generally are.
The main grumble of the night for the hardened clubbers was that the event had shorter hours than a London party. A lot of us were just getting into the swing of the party when it was kicking out time, so perhaps an official after-party is needed for the people who refuse to go to bed before dawn?
One lady I spoke with said it had always been her dream to go to Torture Garden, and this night in Edinburgh had made her dreams come true as she wasn’t able to travel to London.
Indeed, TG Edinburgh is desperately needed by the Scottish fetish scene. It provides a gateway to bigger things and allows people who can’t get to London or international events to get a feel for how good fetish clubbing can be.
I’ve had a few better nights at London TGs (may you rest in peace, Mass). But not many of them can compare to a local night of fun with great friends (old and new), a bouncing dancefloor and the prospect that it happens again in a few months’ time. Roll on December.
TG Edinburgh is desperately needed by the Scottish scene. It gives people who can’t travel far a feel for how good fetish clubbing can be